Monday, November 03, 2003
What a tough week.
Those Muslims sure do have a strange way to celebrate the holidays. Yesterday, a flight of CH-47 Chinook helicopters was fired upon by some of the local francs-tireurs. One helicopter successfully evaded SA-7 fire from the ground. Unfortunately, the other Chinook took a direct hit and crashed to the ground. 15 of our guys were killed in the attack, many others wounded. What really cuts to the quick is the fact that the infantrymen were beginning their two-weeks' leave. There were families expecting them home for a very short time. Unfortunately, they will receive the worst of news.
Sullivan commented that this attack, and the ensuing celebrations for the cameras by local townsfolk, are part of what he terms a "Somalia" strategy. Kill our troops, then celebrate their deaths, in the hopes that the American people will tire of this and leave Iraq to the likes of Saddam and his Sunni goons. For now, the terrorists appear to have a tactical advantage, if only because our use of infantry tactics and patrolling techniques has left something to be desired. One must never leave the initiative of any kind to the enemy. Otherwise, the next infantryman's death is merely a matter of time and choice.
Where does this leave us politically? Well, for starters, I believe that Bush has the moxie to see this through to the end. It is a good thing, because his political opponents would beat feet at the first sign of an opening. There is no thought of failure, no loss of nerve, at this White House. For that we can be thankful. Were that the same thing true in the Democratic Party. But it is not. The Democrats have veered wildly towards pacifism and retreat, all the while criticizing the President by using armies of straw men.
Democrats do this because the antiwar movement has its home in the base vote of the Democratic Party. These candidates need those base voters, and pacifism is where the votes are over there. However, their displays of weakness invite further attack. It is an article of faith among the jihadi that America has a glass jaw and cannot take casualties. To the extent that Democrats undermine the war effort, they are to be condemned, for they play into the hand of the Islamic Fascists. This does not relieve them of their obligation to offer up criticism of the Administration where it is applicable, but criticism should be leveled concomitant with a tableing of constructive solutions. There is plenty the Administration has got wrong, to be sure. But this campaign is part of a larger war to defend Western Christendom against another outbreak of Islamic imperialism. No part of that campaign can fail.
I believe that the grand strategy is sound: set up Iraq as a democracy in order to infect the surrounding kleptocracies with the virus of popular sovereignty. Once the Islamic heartland is infected by modernity, the attractions of terrorism and theocratic conquest will abate. Tactically, however, we remain on the defensive in the Sunni heartland. In the Shi'a territories and in Kurdistan, reconstruction and success have been the bywords, but much depends on how we turn this war against the Saddam crowd and their foreign allies. We may find it necessary to be much firmer towards the Sunni than was originally thought. Until such time, however, we must adopt different, more agressive patrolling techniques. We must also set up ambushes and counter-ambushes, and make extensive use of snipers.
It will be, as Donald Rumsfeld wisely forsaw, a "long, hard slog". But in the end, when all roads lead to Baghdad, it will have been worth it.